Public concerned that developers have too much power, survey finds

Almost three in five Britons think that developers have too much power to override communities' wishes, according to a survey of attitudes to infrastructure published today.

Infrastructure: new commission will assess country's infrastructure needs
Infrastructure: new commission will assess country's infrastructure needs

The Independent survey of attitudes to infrastructure in Great Britain 2015, which questioned 2,000 adults in Britain in June, found that "58 per cent think the balance of power between developers and local communities is too much in favour of developers’ plans over the wishes of communities" and 49 per cent "think that there are not enough safeguards to protect the country’s countryside and natural habitats."

This, the report states, stands in contrast with people’s "concern about perceived ‘red tape’ that leads to delays and increased costs" of major projects, which was a recurring theme in focus group discussions held in London, Bristol, Kenilworth and Stockport throughout May this year.

The report, published by stakeholder engagement firm Copper Consultancy and research agency Icaro in partnership with multi-disciplinary consultancy Peter Brett Associates (PBA), concludes that there is "an unresolved tension between the national need [for major infrastructure projects] and safeguards to protect communities and the environment" and calls for stakeholders to "demonstrate balance."

PBA director Dermot Scanlon, who runs PBA’s infrstructure planning team, told Planning that "everyone has a role to play: the newly-formed National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) will be important in setting out the strategic framework for projects and engaging with the public about the need for projects and broadly where they might happen; the promoters in explaining what they’re going to do, why and where; and talking to the public and explaining to them what it means for them in their locality and then responding to the feedback they get as part of that engagement process."

NIC chair Lord Adonis said that "people rightly demand proper engagement and genuine consultation," adding that "it is now up to the industry as a whole to take [the report’s] findings forward and build the broad coalition of support we need to secure the projects of the future." 

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